To continue as we are feels difficult. To wait for redemption, or salvation. Inside this secular crisis. As Cleaver writes:
neither the cyclical business downturns nor the upturns, nor a whole series of capitalist counter-measures (local and international), have resolved the underlying problems of the system in such a way as to lay the basis for a renewal of stable accumulation. Thus, secular crisis means the continuing threat to the existence of capitalism posed by antagonistic forces and trends which are inherent in its social structure and which persist through short term fluctuations and major restructurings.
The persistence of crisis. Revealed inside-and-against ever more desperate restructuring. As Phoenix Capital notes for China, with a nod to Brazil and the USA:
China is on the verge of a “Lehman” moment as its shadow banking system implodes. China had pumped roughly $1.6 trillion in new credit (that’s 21% of GDP) into its economy in the last two quarters… and China GDP growth is in fact slowing. This is what a credit bubble bursting looks like: the pumping becomes more and more frantic with less and less returns. Check out the collapse in China’s stock market.
The persistence of crisis. The contagion of crisis. Revealed inside-and-against a systemic assault on the future. As the Automaticearth notes of quantitative easing, money printing, and the looming deflationary spiral that will extract value from unborn generations:
What happens with pensions is the same as what happens with unemployment. And with the economy in general, for that matter: all the stimulus measures are mere lipstick for zombies, which are kept undead with trillions upon trillions of dollars borrowed from the future. We reap the undead profit and leave our children with the bill.
The promise of crisis. Revealed as entropy; more than as punctuated equilibrium. As Kunstler notes for the USA:
Everything in America except the Apple stores and a handful of big banks is falling apart — especially the human habitat and households. Suburbia will only lose value and utility. Big cities will have to get smaller (ouch!). Tar sands, shale oil and shale gas will not ride to the rescue (they cost too much to get out of the ground). The entire declension of government from federal to state to local will be too broke to fix the roads and make “transfer payments” to idle, indigent citizens. This populace will lose faith in their institutions… and disorder will eventually resolve in a new and very different disposition of things on-the-ground. If we’re lucky, this will not include cruel despotic leadership and war.
And young people are advised to “consider repudiating your college debt en masse, since the fantasy of repayment is but another mental shackle holding you back from your future.”
The future repatriated to obviate the crisis of the present. The secular crisis inside which all life is subordinated to value. All education is subordinated to value. All knowing is subordinated to value. The crisis of the domination of:
Capitalist rules [that] impose the generalized subordination of human life to work. Whereas all previous class societies have involved the extraction of surplus labor, only in capitalism have all human activities been reshaped as work, as commodity producing labor processes.
The crisis revealed as there is no alternative. The crisis revealed as PRISM; as mastering the internet; inside Brazil as a crisis of representation; as global social domination; as the State’s securitisation of capitalist social relations. Because in the secular crisis:
the problem that capital faces in managing the antagonism of the working class is that of managing not only a shared (though not necessarily allied or even complementary) resistance but also diverse processes of self-constitution repeatedly escaping its rules and precipitating crisis. Capital accumulation requires that capitalist command (thesis) internalize the hostile self-activities of the working class (antithesis) and convert them into contradictions (synthesis) capable of providing dynamism to what is basically a lifeless set of rules/constraints.
The crisis revealed politically, beyond economic determinism, through refusal. The crisis revealed as solidarity; because solidarity is a weapon. The crisis revealed as the courage to discuss capitalism, and the domination of dead over living labour. The crisis revealed through technology as
the problem of imposing work — and thus of maintaining control — [which] becomes more and more acute [just as] the amount of at least potentially free or “disposable” time rises with unemployment, i.e., wagelessness.
And we see this in the recalibration of higher education around global labour arbitrage, the prestige economy and internships, financialisation and debt, and the extraction of socialised value. And what becomes more clear as we wait for the State and its institutions to reimpose a method of accumulation, and to reimpose the logic and domination of work, is the need to find a means by which it is possible to
substitute the politics of alliance for the replacement of capitalism by a diversity of social projects. A politics of alliance against capital to be conducted not only to accelerate the circulation of struggle from sector to sector of the class, but to do so in such a manner as to build a post-capitalist politics of difference without antagonism. It has been the circulation of struggle which has thrown capitalist command into crisis; it is only through the circulation of struggle that the divisions which continue to weaken us can be overcome. Such circulation, however, is not a matter of propagating anti-capitalist ideology but involves the fabrication and utilization of material connections and communications that destroy isolation and permit people to struggle in complementary ways — both against the constraints which limit them and for the alternatives they construct, separately and together.
And to argue for a co-operative moment for higher education, in this secular crisis. Because solidarity is a weapon.
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